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Our roots are in the dark

“Success is somebody else’s failure. Success is the American Dream and we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including 30 million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty. No, I do not wish you success. I don’t even want to talk about it. I want to talk about failure,” Ursula Le Guin giving a commencement address at Mills College in 1983.

“Because you are human beings, you are going to meet failure. You are going to meet disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss. You will find you’re weak where you thought yourself strong. You’ll work for possessions and then find they possess you. You will find yourself – as I know you already have – in dark places, alone, and afraid.

“What I hope for you, for all my sisters and daughters, brothers and sons, is that you will be able to live there, in the dark place. To live in the place that our rationalizing culture of success denies, calling it a place of exile, uninhabitable, foreign…

“…And when you fail, and are defeated, and in pain, and in the dark, then I hope you will remember that darkness is your country, where you live, where no wars are fought and no wars are won, but where the future is. Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing – instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there.”


From Ursula Le Guin, ‘A Left Handed Commencement Address’ (1983), printed in the collection of essays Dancing at the End of the World.

Contains many other gems and powerful words, including ‘The Princess‘ (a 1982 speech to the Portland branch of the National Abortion Rights Action League) and ‘The Space Crone’ – an amazing piece about the status of post-menopausal women.

Reading: Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice

The multi-award winning (Hugo Award 2014, Nebula 2013, British Science Fiction Association 2014, Arthur C. Clarke 2014, etc.) Ancillary Justice was American writer’s first novel, and the second book I read in 2018.

The basic setup is a soldier, Breq, who used to be part of the spaceship Justice of Toren (as an ancillary human body controlled by an artificial intelligence) on a quest for revenge. It’s the first book in the Imperial Radch trilogy, with Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy being released in 2014 and 2015 respectively, but can certainly be read standalone. Continue reading Reading: Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice

Reading Octavia E. Butler’s ‘Bloodchild’

Octavia Butler - Bloodchild

The first book I finished in 2018 was Octavia E. Butler’s Bloodchild and other stories, the 2005 second edition. It contains five previously published stories, two essays, then two unpublished stories, as well as short afterwords for each piece, written by Butler.

I bought this book at my local independent bookseller, Better Read Than Dead, after I turned up ten minutes early to meet someone who was fifteen minutes late, so I needed something to do. I’ve wanted to read something by Octavia Butler for a while, and for the last month have been checking speculative fiction sections in bookstores, with not a lot of success. That day I hit the jackpot. Continue reading Reading Octavia E. Butler’s ‘Bloodchild’

Too Late, Humans

My article, published by Overland Literary Journal:

There’s a chilling scene near the beginning of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic, Farenheit 451, where Guy Montag discovers that his wife has overdosed on sleeping pills. When the nonplussed emergency technicians arrive they pump Mildred’s stomach using enormous machines, give her a blood transfusion and then leave matter-of-factly: all in a day’s work in the twenty-fourth century.

Where Montag is Bradbury’s ‘everyman’, struggling to come to terms with a growing awareness of his totalitarian world, Mildred reflects the horror of those descended completely into society’s shallow consumerist nightmare. She wants little more than a fourth wall for her TV, so she can achieve complete immersion in her favourite television programs, particularly the highly popular ‘The Family’, in which she plays a scripted part.

Read the full article online here.

The Next Adventure

Whether you’re aware of it or not, from where I’m sitting you’re on an adventure right now. A Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Thelma & Louise, Frozen, Stand by Me, Choose Your Own, Jesus type adventure. They’re all pretty much the same thing. But you know that by now, aren’t they? Continue reading The Next Adventure

My 21st Birthday Party

My 21st Birthday Party was the first time I had been the centre of attention at a party as an adult. I had arranged my 18th birthday party to be held at the same time as a friend’s 21st. Somehow though nobody had told my friend’s parents or anyone else throwing the party, so I was completely forgotten. Continue reading My 21st Birthday Party

Starting sentences with Look and I Think

Today’s challenge was to write about: a word or phrase that you use constantly. The only one that I can think of, which is ‘cool’, and that seems completely superfluous to write about even in this challenge, so I’m going for a word I don’t like and a phrase I do. Continue reading Starting sentences with Look and I Think